Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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A Meditation on Demons

He was a constant – a man who embodied the theatrical comedy and tragedy masks of Janus. He was a clown who walked a tightrope above us, always there in the peripheral of our lives, smiling, laughing, waving, dancing, shouting. I never expected him to fall.

It’s like the scary monstrous knight who tortures him in the Fisher King. Just as his character is falling in love again, the trauma of his last love haunts him, bringing forth this horrible, unspeakable demon who chases him into a corner, until he happily welcomes a gang of thugs who beat him senseless – to end it all. It’s like suicide was the thug.

It was that deep, dark, horrible ghost – like in the corner of the attic in the mansion where he played as a little boy. That dark area he never went near to which he succumbed.

Its been over a month now. I’ve already written about him this week.

I need to get over this, but this flooded my mind today.  It’s the human condition.

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Naval Gazing on a ‘Fry & Laurie’ Memory

Back in the early 90’s, I used to walk around London listening to The Smiths and Bjork.  It left an indelible mark on my brain. Now, when I hear the songs ‘Human Behavior’ or ‘Venus as a Boy’, I’m right back there, walking along the South Bank of the River Thames on a blustery autumnal afternoon – from Clapham Common all the way to Tower Bridge. The thumping beat of “Behavior…” drove my feet. The buoyancy of the reggae vibe of ‘Venus…”matched the grey and ancient waterway.

In terms of The Smiths,  I can’t listen to ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ or “Miserable Lie’ today without thinking of jumping on the tube at Embankment, or walking Birdcage Walk along the St. James’ Park peripheral, approaching Buckingham Palace, then continuing on and on until I ended up on Westminster Bridge. Back at the river again.

In 1991, I was a comedy nerd extraordinaire, who, through the PBS and arts channels of American cable, was introduced to the British comedic mind in the world of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (I was a bit late), Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Young Ones, French & Saunders, This is David Landers and A Bit of Fry and Laurie. I was about to embark on my first trip to England with my dad.  Besotted with Mr’s Fry and Laurie, and a devoted reader of Time Out London, I found out that a new series of a Bit of… was due to tape the week I was in town. Huzzah!  I called the BBC immediately, NYT to GMT permitting, and got on that list pronto. Screw jet lag.  My first night in London was to be spent at BBC Television Centre, sitting at a taping of A Bit of Fry & Laurie on August 24th!  It also happened to be Mr. Fry’s birthday.

A little background:

I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Stephen Fry and his partner Hugh Laurie. And when I mean head over heals in love – I’m speaking of Stephen Fry.  Yes, I was aware of his sexual orientation. It was a useless desire, likely more of a sisterly type of infatuation, knowing that even if he was really in my life, I’d never stand a chance. Yet, while walking through the streets of London, on my first trip, and many others afterward, I carried the torch for Stephen Fry with the voice of Morrissey in my head and Bjork next on the playlist.

Fry wasn’t totally out as a gay human being back then, but he wasn’t always in the closet either. It’s as though he was an out of commission homosexual hiding in plain sight. He talked of “whoopsies” often, openly adored and emulated Oscar Wilde and wrote a semi-autobiographical novel called The Liar, where the protagonist spends a good portion of the story absolutely gagging in love with a boy. It was a heartbreaking and lovely read.

The book incorporated some of Fry’s own youthful struggles. He was seventeen when he ran away from home. One day, while on the run, he walked into a pub, stole a man’s coat and wallet, and proceeded to fraudulently go on a shopping spree that subsequently landed him three months in jail where he spent his sentence teaching illiterate inmates how to read. He admits today that this incident was a result of undiagnosed manic depression. Even today, it hurts my heart to think of what he and his family must have endured.

But he’s rich and famous now, so I think it’s safe to say – it all worked out nicely.

So, I entered the BBC Television Centre in Shepherd’s Bush. Quite the glory there. Python undoubtedly created the Flying Circus within those offices and studios. In fact, the format of F&L was the same as Python’s show. There were in-studio performances with a live audience reacting to previously filmed sketches beaming from television monitors . There was a lady in guest relations who was so kind to me over the phone, she practically placed me in the VIP line. My dad and I ended up in the front row.

The whole show was a blur since it was so many years ago. Yet I remember it took hours to tape. There were sketch set ups, stops and starts, redoing a scene over again, the two stars making quips while the sound was corrected or a light re-adjusted. Hugh would constantly remind everyone that it was Stephen’s birthday, and with his half moon face, Fry would grin and shrug like a little proud birthday boy.

There was a moment, in between a take, that I do remember clearly. Stephen was sitting waiting for something to be re-arranged. Having been in the front row, his gaze turned to me. He stared at me with this strange kind of acknowledgement. He had this dreamy look in his eye and a lovely grin on his face.  It seemed like the stare lasted a good half a minute. I was taken by this. Surely, he’s not really seeing me?  Stephen’s just looking into space and his eyes happened to meet mine. Surely, right? It was as if time stood still, stopping everything for those long seconds until his eyes turned away, back to face Hugh to begin the scene, and everything began to move again.

A few years later, in 1995, Stephen Fry had a melt down. While starring in the West End production of Simon Grey’s Cell Mates, he disappeared, leaving the production without one of its box office luring stars. (The play also starred the late, great, fabulous Rik Mayall)  It was all over the British press. He wrote a note to tell everyone he was a cad, and then left the country. It was another break down. Everyone thought he was going to commit suicide. He was found in Bruges in Belgium alone, alive and ready for therapy. When he returned to England, he began a sabbatical that would last a year or two.

During that time, the world wide web was slowly beginning to weave its platform with rich text and colorful pages. Stephen had a rudimentary website not many people knew about. Somehow, I found it and his email address. Figuring, what the hell, I wrote a fan email, telling him about how he inspires me and how grateful I am to have him in this world. I also spoke of that moment in the studio.

What happened next – blew my mind. He wrote back to me!  In the midst of this great depression and media black out, he responded! It’s like I found this little secret portal called email to connect with a fallen hero hurting. It was amazing that this great talent, this wounded soul, too time out of his quiet life to write back.  I could kick myself for not saving the message. It’s lost in an old, long since discarded 2 gig hard drive.

But I do remember him saying, in response to that staring moment back at the BBC, “It was likely I found a kindred spirit, a kind soul to lay my eye upon.”

Sigh. Mr. Fry, I will always love you. And Hugh, Bjork and Morrissey too.


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Oh, Scotland….I Came So Close To Being In You

Oh Scotland. I wish I had landed on your rustic and craggy ground. I meant to, back in the day when I traveled to England to sink myself into the British world. It was on my to-do list,  heading up by train to walk your ancient streets and taste your meaty haggis… To drink your gin and dwell in your stormy wind…

Okay, now it’s getting a little steamy in here as I wax poetic about the country that wants to detach itself from the UK. Becoming a separate nation makes it seem like it will be the Canada of Great Britain, taking with it  the history of great writers and artists..

Scotland has its poetry and writers such as Robert Burns, J.M. Barrie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to name a few.  With all the talk of Scotland’s hope for independence from the UK, it brought me back to my days of old. It reminds me of my obsession with Sherlock Holmes portrayed by the ITV/Granada incarnation that Jeremy Brett brought to life. His manic depressive energy worked wonders, with his trusty Watson, played by two actors – David Burke and Edward Hardwicke –  by his side.

Brett’s version famously pre-dates the equally fantastic Cumberbatch version of the grand master sleuth on Sherlock.  Yet, I was besotted with Brett and his living, breathing enactment of Holmes. So much so, that back in the 90’s, my passion for this curious literary creature (touched by Brett) drove me to train it up to Manchester to visit the Granada Studios where they filmed the Brett version years before.

I walked within the fake Baker Street set, which was sadly made into a tourist sight. Then, strangely enough (to an American), I toured the Coronation Street set where they filmed their legendary soap opera at the time. (I presume they are still filming there). Apparently, there’s a famous childrens show called ‘Sooty’ that made a big splash for the British sightseers. It suppose Sooty was equivalent to our Cookie Monster, so I went along with stories about the local kids telly sweetheart. Besides, it was just also nice to hang out in the northern town’s grey rain, and soak in the atmosphere of melancholy that had so inspired Morrissey and The Smiths.

Manchester is the closest I ever got to Scotland.  I’m fascinated by the changes a possible break away will do for Great Britain and its’ people. I have visions of Mel Gibson in facial warpaint on the brain, metaphorically fighting the fight of the Scots to remain singular.

As an American with Anglo comedy and music interests as an avocation (Beatles, Fry & Laurie, French & Saunders, Graham Norton…), comments about Scotland’s hope for independence is way beyond my purview. But it’s damn interesting to see what will happen if it becomes real.

Just a thought for the day.


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Biking the Great Hill

As I’ve wandered the pathways of Google, I’ve been happy to find that the late amazing Mr. R. Williams was an avid bicyclist. I used to be one as well. Although I’ve never had the kind of money he had to spend on the latest in titanium and carbon made beauties, I’ve held my fair share of purchases in the name of a good ride.

Years ago, when I worked at Sesame Workshop (Elmo is still in my blood), I had a massive crush on a VP who was a major cyclist. During the warm months, he’d ride to and from work, stomping into the office in his bike shorts and clip ons.  On weekends,  he’d leave his apartment in Morningside Heights on the seat of his bike, and high tail it across the George Washington Bridge to head up route 9W – a road that runs parallel to the Palisades Parkway.  He’d cycle for at least 25 miles into the suburban sprawl of Rockland County, or on some weekends –  to Westchester, and bike it back – making it a full day excursion. That kind of freaked me out – being so vulnerable to space and mileage, being away from your home on a bike where your muscle and energy is the main way to get to and from one’s destination. I remember a summer I spent in Cambridge, England where a friend and I biked several miles out of town into the country. I felt a combination of exhilaration and panic.  Wide open spaces and beautiful fields thrill me, but being alone on a bike so far from home – freaked me. I almost went off track and began cycling off the country road down a ramp leading to the motorway.

Always the athletic kind, and pretty happy to catch my crush’s addiction, I purchased a Specialized hybrid bike from a terrific cyclist shop in Piermont, NY – which is along the way of a well known bike route. I bought the shoes that clip, the shorts with the butt padding, the helmet, and gloves.  I kept the bike in my apartment in Manhattan. Come spring and summer, when the days were long, I’d pull out the Specialized after work and bike it over to Central Park where I’d ride around the drive that circled the entire span until I approached The Great Hill.

The Great Hill is a bugger. It’s at the northern tip of the Park, well above 100th street. Most seasoned bikers probably think of it as just a lump. To me, it’s the great monster –  the monstrosity that needs to be concurred. After riding the changing terrain of the drive, dashing around joggers and pedestrians, you approach the Meer – a waterway at the base of The Hill. That’s the landmark. It’s where you pull your shit together, gird your loins, get the lungs ready, because that road was going to begin to turn upwards to the heavens.

As I pulled my bike up the incline, I’d see the fallout of those who could not make it, and the glory of those who could. While others would zip up that majesty of steepness, others would slowly climb it, only to get off their bikes and walk it, their wheels ticking in defeat. Yet, it was worth keeping oneself steady up this high road. Once you saw the top of the hill, the euphoric snap of adrenaline would hit.  With each thrust of the pedal, each pump of muscle, you were about to accomplish a personal heroic feat of reaching the pinnacle of that giant mount. Then, you’d be rewarded with the speed, breeze and ease of rushing downhill, cooling down with another ride around the drive, where you would face the Great Hill again.

I still have my Specialized bike. Sadly, throughout the years, I’ve taken a few serious spills on the old thing, causing great injuries that I can still feel today. The last time I tried to ride was Memorial Day weekend in 2005, when going down hill, my gears snagged. I gripped the brakes and was thrust off the bike where I landed and rolled on my ankle so badly, I broke my foot.  It’s almost a decade later, and getting on this old friend makes me dizzy with fear. Yet, I’ve carried it with me from move to move – even across country to Los Angeles where it sits in my hallway waiting for the day I overcome my strange fear of the ride. I’ve tried to sell it, but can’t seem to. I want to get on that bike again one day. I want to find the courage to concur the Great Hill again.


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Two Things In This Picture

There are two things in this picture that make my heart sink.  Robin Williams. New York.

We lost Robin.

I lost New York.

Yes, I love Louis CK, but he’s alive and well and wonderful. This isn’t about him. He’s thankfully in the land of the living. Thankfully part of the fold that marches on despite the difficult currents.

Four years ago, my father passed away, and my love affair with New York City – one that had lasted my entire life – ended. I was born and raised twenty minutes north of Manhattan, in a bedroom community. New York City was the heartbeat of my life. It was always close. It was always alluring. When I became a career minded adult, New York City was the obvious destination. It felt like home, and it was for more than twenty years.

I always equate my feelings for Manhattan as a type of love affair. When I fell in love with the idea of moving to Los Angeles, it felt as if I had betrayed New York. When I found a job in L.A. and packed up my things, bidding farewell to my upper east side apartment, it was as if I was being handed divorce papers. My heart hurt.  What New York really is – is a connection to the parents who gave me life and who eventually, through time and age, passed on.  To stay in New York knowing that profound spiritual and physical connection no longer existed, well, it was hard to bear. Mix that in with general NYC fatigue, and you have a falling out with a location in this world – one of the only places I’ve ever lived.

I’ve been a resident of Los Angeles for four years now, and I’m ready to move back into the arms of New York, or one of his five boroughs. But this time, he’s fallen in love with someone else. She’s called money. High rent. I can come back, but I’ll have to deal with money – lots of it. So, the suburbs are calling me back…back to where I was born and raised, despite visions of an apartment on Riverside Drive bouncing in my head.

One month ago, the world lost Robin Williams. I’m still reeling over this. I’m incredibly surprised at my obsession with this man – a genius whose talent was apparently fueled by pain. I’ve read fan forums and twitter feeds about how absolute strangers miss him. I’ve been a follower of his son Zak’s Twitter feed, and recently saw a heart breaking tweet about how much he misses his dad, accompanied by a photo of Robin giving blood on 9/11. “He was so good”, Zac said. The replies that followed were lovely, sharing his pain, his hurt.

“I miss him too,” said one. “I miss him too,” said another.

Universal sentiments; however strange. His children, wives, family, personal friends –  miss him. The comment of “I miss him” is too personal – too attached to a human that only a small crowd of people were lucky to have known as a regular person.  But for those who are linking themselves in with a son who will miss his father – well, it feels close to an intrusion. It’s not like Robin was in their day to day lives, in the flesh, taking them to school, or putting them through college. He was likely not their neighbor or cycling buddy, production crew member or personal assistant. We’ll all miss him, but we’ll miss him being a part of this world. We’ll miss him on talk show interviews or new HBO specials, films and television appearances. I’ll miss new perspectives from him. I’ll even miss the frenetic, crazy comedy he blurted out when skirting questions, or trying not to connect too deeply lest one should figure out the mechanics in the brain, the hurt of the heart, the pain he held close to the vest.

What am I trying to say? I miss my dad, too. My dad was so good. I miss New York and am ready to begin the process of moving back in the next few years, ready to face a life in my home state without the constant of two humans who used to live there.

I’ve hung around plenty of comedians having befriended a few, and hanging around the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York where I studied improv. I’ve seen the darkness in which they dwell. So much so – that kept my distance for fear of falling in their well.

I will miss Robin Williams as a human being who only entered my life through film and television (sadly – I wish I had met him, although I did attend an SNL show he hosted). Mr. Williams held the key to a madness. He opened a forbidden door and walked in. Who knew his pain was so vast, so consuming? I think that’s what’s killing me


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Never Forget, But Never Dwell

I was there.  Thirteen years ago today. I remember what I was wearing that morning: White Capri pants and a snug lavender, sleeveless tank top. I hated it. White pants after Labor Day? The summer blues hit me. I walked to the 86th street subway, went down the steps and waited for the warm dirty wind to kick up, indicating a train was coming in.

The 9 train came. Most New Yorkers today know that it no longer exists. But it did that day. The 1 and the 9 trains – local west side. I believe it was once known as the IRT line, although not many people refer to it that way anymore. I never did. Why does the 9 train no longer exist? Because of “that day”. It did make a short comeback, only to quietly become extinct.

The subway car I was in wasn’t very crowded. A few people reading papers. We trained along the line slower than usual. 79th, 72nd, 66th, 59th, 50th, 42nd….then at 33rd we stopped. It was 8:45am in the morning. The stop was longer than usual.

We started again. 28th street. We stopped again. This time an announcement came on.”There appears to be an incident down town. Perhaps a sick passenger. Dispatch has told us to hold for a few minutes.”

We waited for ten minutes. No more voices on the PA. No one was aware of what was happening.

Slowly, the train creaked and pitched over the subway tracks. 23rd street. We stopped. Let out a few people. Let in a few people. No word. No look of panic in anyone’s eyes. A regular morning, or so I thought.

18th Street. My stop. Up the stairs to 7th avenue, where I made my way in the direction of 6th avenue.  I stopped off at the old location of Petite Abielle, the lovely Belgium hole-in-the-wall place where I purchased my daily on-the-go cup of coffee. I stood in line with strangers, all of us oblivious to the chaos downtown, living in the last few moments of what we knew to be the old world – the world before 9/11.

As I made my way toward 6th avenue, I noticed a crowd of people standing on the corner – the very same corner I stood every morning, waiting for the traffic light to turn so I could cross the street to my office building.  This was the corner where I could look to my left and see the Empire State Building, its glorious familiar spire standing proudly. This was the corner where I could look to my right and find the two ominous (I’ve always found the twin towers so) rectangular buildings of the World Trade Center filling out the down town sky.  This was the corner where I would say to myself, “I’m so lucky to live here. So lucky to have been born in this tri-state metropolis.”

A crowd of people stood on the corner. They stood and stared. Just another day in the life. Collective individuals looking downtown at something happening. What was it? Another film crew shooting a movie or commercial?”

No. As I approached and took my place in the crowd, I saw it: A giant massive hole in the north tower. Thick black smoke pouring out of a building that was now in flames. It was like a movie.

“Two planes hit each tower,” a man told me. “The second one hit the south tower a few moments ago.”

I walked across the street. On the other side, I looked into the eyes of people who walked in my direction, heading toward the scene that I just left. Did they know what happened? Are they aware of what this was?

I remember shivering as I entered the building. I remember my boss on the phone. I remember my guts churning with anxiety, burning with the need to tell him what I saw. I remember breaking the news to him. I remember him running out the door. I remember someone in my office trying to call his wife, who worked down there. I remember seeing one tower disintegrate into rubble on TV.  I remember being told to go home. I remember walking home from 18th to 92nd street.  I remember walking home and passing  6th avenue, and looking downtown at the last vision of the one tower that still stood. I remember walking through Time Square and seeing the news on the Diamondvision screen that the last tower, the one I saw fifteen minutes before had also collapsed. I remember needing a normal moment, and walked into the Tower Records in Lincoln Center to buy the new Bob Dylan album. I remember the quiet of west end avenue, leaving behind the throng of wayward people left stranded on the island. I remember my neighbor, a doctor, in his hospital scrubs, coming home with a friend in a business suit who had dust and cement in her hair. I remember hearing sirens for days. I remember ducking behind my chair when I heard a military plane fly low. I remember how the city was closed the next day, and the hush that fell over my neighborhood. I remember the smell of smoke that drifted through my open windows. The winds had shifted to Riverside Drive.

“That’s how it is in the world, ” my father told me that day on the phone.  A survivor of World War II, he was a child when he saw bombs decimate neighborhoods. He understood tragedy as something people live with.

“You’ve never had to see this happen in America, ” he said matter-of-factly, with a hint of resignation, saddened by the incident, but not shocked.

“This is the world.”

I remember leaving that cup of coffee from Petite Abeille on my desk that day. I had not taken a sip.  That cup of coffee purchased moments before I realized that everything was going to change forever.

That’s what I remember. I’ll leave out the rest. I want to remember that little Belgium place that I loved. That last moment before.


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Day Job Distractions

It happened again today. The celestial being we writers like to refer to as “The Muse” visited my brain while in an early morning meeting. It seems the earlier I wake up, the more clear my brain. This makes ideas, words and stories suddenly flow through the spigot that had been blocked for weeks.  Yet, it always seems to happen when there are people around me, in a conference room, talking about negotiations and output deals. In between looking at emails on my iPad and thinking of plans for the day, comes a whole new idea for a book!  And not only a book, but a writing project that actually has an audience I can define.

Feverishly, descreetly, I jot down titles for chapters that I feel will become the chapters of my book. It occurs to me that my entire life has been spent creating this possible novel. The disappointments, the varied jobs, each have contributed toward something that adorable little hobbit The Muse thoughtfully decided to whisper in my mind grapes (see: Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock). Now,  after playing coy and not showing up to the table each time I open a blank Word document. Now, after,  committing to writing each day, ready for the flow, only to be stood up like a cheap date. Now, the ideas flow. Now, while I need to pay attention to my day job. Okay. I’ll take it now. Bring it, muse. Bring it while my mind is open and relaxed, trance-like and have some down time before I need to do the job I’m being paid for. I have other responsibilities, you know.

Writing and planning a career in self publishing has been like tending to a winter garden. This past year has been spent toiling the earth, fortifying  the soil with words, stories, ideas, structure, plans – each element of the creative process tended to on a day by day process, until content is actually formed – usable, publishable content. Yet, the growth of the writing career I’m cultivating is slow. The dirt is looking healthy and moist for growth, but the seeds are still hatching down below. Today, while listening to the clicks and static of mobile phones on a Polycom, it seems that garden might see some buds come spring!

Funny how that works.


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Working Titles and Book Covers

As I prepare to publish my book of short stories, I am taken by the decisions I need to make. With all the writing, story selection, updates with my editor and revisions, I’m still in the midst of trying to get the title of my book. I’ve mulled over a few.
Exits and Entrances was the working title of the book for a while. The subtextual theme that ran through each essay embodies that feeling of people who come and go in your life. I decided not to go through with it because there are a few literary works out there with the same name.

Another title was The Gentlest Tide, which touched upon the concept of ocean waves featured in the last story of the collection. Yet, I felt it to be a weak title, more sublime for the middle of a lyric, as it originally was taken from part of a song by Jeff Tweedy and Wilco called “On and On and On”.

Stuck Between Stations was on the board for a while, since the characters in the stories are suspended in moments that define them. However, the word “stuck” felt like a negative one.

But the word “Flight” is important. Each story encompass the concept of fantasy and flight. A traffic reporter helicopter crash, a time machine built in a back yard, disembodied spirits who’ve inhabited earth, yet departed for another journey – these concepts pervade in this collection. Some characters are directly based on real people, others are fictional beings inspired by loved ones who, either living or dead, have provided an essence for these verbal tales of the material and spiritual world.

The last working title I gave this book was Navigating Flight. It felt right at the time, until I realized the title makes the book sound like a aviation handbook. Yet, It felt right enough for me to pass along to my friend Heather, a wonderful artist who created a mock up cover that blew me away. It’s tricky to post the photo here. It almost looks like a promotion for my forthcoming book – with the wrong title. The photo is not approved for official print, but the spirit is pure and the paper airplane shows a playful yet dreamy action, floating with the current against the last embers of sunlight.

Book naming and cover designs are so important, yet challenging for a first time self publishing writer. Whatever the name of the book will be, I want it to have enough power to entice a reader, with a cover that defines the ethereal feel of the subject matter within. Onward and upward! Another week of work on this!


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Joan Rivers

I don’t have a first memory of Joan Rivers. It was as if she always there. She was the modern day mother of comedy, a lady of convention, conviction and sass. In the dash to read up on the news, I read various fan comments in a blur as my fingers quickly clicked from page to page. One commenter on Facebook said it well: “Robin needed an opening act.” But that’s just one morsel. She was a pioneer.

Heaven must be a funnier place now. Things are certainly less funny down here.

Rest in peace, Joan.

 


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Stage 26, Paramount Pictures

The passage of time. Space capsules and long ago dreams.

I first walked onto the Paramount Studio lot in 1988  on my first trip to Los Angeles. Back then, I worked at NBC and was tempted to move out to Hollywood to work at the network offices in Burbank. It was so different there, I thought. Instead of the high rise buildings and dirty windows of Rockefeller Plaza, there were bungalows and low level buildings that looked out at bald hills and wide open sky.  Instead of subways and buses, there were cars and parking lots, promising independence from a train schedule and a place to park that freedom. My friend Larry was interning on Entertainment Tonight, which used to shoot on the Paramount lot, so off I went to visit him, with my mother (who joined me on this trip), to the stage where Mary Hart and John Tesh reported important stories about behind the scenes drama on the set of Dynasty or what Suzanne Somers was up to.

I remember walking onto the darkened stage. It likely smelled like a lumberyard because that’s what sound stages usually are – a construction site with lots of wood and tools. The temperature was cool as well – it always is due to the camera equipment. The set was dark. The only light came from the sunshine that poked through the giant opened door where we entered. Before I could turn around to leave, my mother found a light switch.

“Oh, here it is,” she said. With one click, the giant studio light fixtures started to heat up, each making a large banging noise as they flickered on to a blinding blaze through each gel.

I looked at my mother, who had a totally deadpan look on her face.

“What? It was dark.”

I though we were going to get in trouble. But, I’ll give her props. She saw the darkness, and found the light – despite possible union violations.

I decided not to relocate to LA then. Instead, I continued to live in New York, moving from my parents home in the suburbs to my own apartment off west end avenue on the upper west side. I fell in love with a city that was twenty five minutes away from the where I grew up. It was like waking up one day to discover the boy next door was a hottie. I lost myself in New York’s charm, letting go of the sacrifices, the rent and the noise. I explored the hilly terrain of Riverside Drive. I languished in the delicious food of Zabars, Flora de Mayo and Planet Sushi. My commute was a 20 minute walk to the Lincoln Center area where I’d stop off at one of the twenty Starbucks locations along he way. You know it’s love when you walk to work in a blizzard. You know it’s love when your stomach churns with happiness as the springtime flowers along the curbside bloom. You know this town makes its mark when you watch two towers fall from your office window,  and later the same day, walk through the crowd of wandering lost people who keep muttering, “What is happening to this world?”

A decade passed, and the flames of this love affair extinguished slowly. The energy exhausted me. The neighbors were too close, the apartments too expensive and small. The weather was harsh – always playing havoc with my hair in the summer, always biting my fingertips in the frigid cold. New York, a difficult lover whose seduction once had me in the palm of his hand, became abusive. I grew tired of his ways. His crammed subway cars, the angry faces he placed in my way. I fell in love with Los Angeles, my former crush. He had better living conditions, lower rent for more space, beautiful weather, mountains, valleys and ocean.

I broke up with my old flame New York for the promise of a better life in Los Angeles four years ago this month. He welcomed me with a one bedroom apartment for under $2000 per month and a used Prius. His palms trees and beautiful night sky held me safe. His blue, wide Pacific Ocean took my breath away. But as one sunny day folded into another, and the hot sun beat on the hood of my car so hot you could bake a sheet of cookies – sameness permeated. Dissatisfaction, that old familiar enemy, started weaving that melancholy I remember so well, creeping in with the dust of the drought, the vulnerability to crime, the dryness of heat and the car ride you always have to take to get to anywhere.

I miss my New York. I miss Zabars and Riverside Park. I fantasize about where I can live, knowing that New York City, so unaffordable when I first lived there – is now prohibitively so. Yet, I dream of an apartment near Riverside Drive or Morningside Heights. I imagine flying my dog and I across the country to a new home in my old metropolis. Maybe ditching the city itself, and going back to the suburbs to find a place with a backyard near all the familiar old places. I can train it via Metro North where I can still meet up with my old friend NYC for dinner or something. Maybe a movie. Catch up on old times on the Metropolitan Museum rooftop.

Yet, until then, here I am – at Paramount Pictures. The place that was once a tourist visit for me, is now my daily routine. Where MHappy Days and Laverne and Shirley, Cheers and Mork & Mindy, filmed on stage 26 – shows of my childhood and young adult years- were created just several yards away from where I sit everyday, all day – right here where I write. That L.A. courtship came true. But like all Hollywood romances, split ups are inevitable.

I’m thinking of asking for a divorce.